In a new twist, a U.S. District Court judge has ordered special counsel Robert Mueller to hand over all secret documents related to the questioning of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn's legal team claims the Federal Bureau of Investigation urged the retired United States Army lieutenant general not to bring a lawyer to an interview with agents at the White House in January 2017. Flynn has since pleaded guilty to one count of lying to prosecutors and is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Wednesday ordered Mueller to turn over all documents and "memoranda" related to Flynn's questioning by 3 p.m. Friday. Sullivan is the same judge who overturned a 2008 conviction of former Sen. Ted Stevens after government misconduct was revealed.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe set up the White House interview with Flynn, suggesting he not have a lawyer present. "I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only," McCabe wrote, according to newly filed court documents.
"I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants."
FBI officials also decided not to warn Flynn that he could face perjury charges if he made false statements during what appeared to be an informal interview.
In his ruling, Judge Sullivan also ordered the Flynn team "to turn over the documents backing up its assertions. The judge could determine why the FBI apparently took a significantly more aggressive tack in handling the Flynn interview than it did during other similar matters, including the agency's sit-downs with Hillary Clinton and ex-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos," Fox News reported.
Mueller's team recently filed court documents that say Flynn provided "substantial assistance" to Mueller's investigation and as a result, the special counsel asked that Flynn serve no jail time for making false statements to the FBI. The filing states:
The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government. As described in the Addendum, shortly after the SCO reached out to the defendant to seek his cooperation, the defendant accepted responsibility for his unlawful conduct and began cooperating with the government.
"Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted," attorney Brandon L. Van Grack, who works on Mueller’s team, wrote in the documents.
The filing says that Flynn sat for 19 interviews with the special counsel and the Department of Justice during the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.